The first day I was going to have what teen counselors call "unprotected sex" with my wife, it was actually a bit scary. Though we both were mid-career professionals and in the privacy of our own bedroom, we felt like a couple of teenagers in the back seat of my father’s Chevy.
"I’m not sure I know you well enough..." murmured my wife as I nibbled on her left ear and began a trail of kisses leading downward.
"Don’t worry, I’ll respect you in the morning," I told her. Eventually we did what couples everywhere have done since before people lived in caves: we shut our eyes and plunged ahead.
Two weeks later I returned home from teaching a literature class to find my wife waiting for me with barely suppressed glee. “Look,” she demanded, thrusting a plastic stick in my face. It wasn’t hard to figure out what it meant.
Despite morning sickness, back pain, and a rush to the hospital worthy of an old I Love Lucy episode, the pregnancy and delivery were fairly routine, and my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy… exactly one month early. In other words, eight months to the day we started trying—the eight months the gynecologist said it would take us to conceive our child—we were sitting in a hospital room, a bit dazed, holding him in our arms.
Maybe the moral of this story, if one exists, is that you can anticipate and prepare only so much. After that it’s up to the goddess of fertility or just Mother Nature. A lot of couples we knew figured that getting pregnant would be as simple as slipping into bed; some of them were right, and others were surprised to encounter challenges. Other couples (like us) anticipated problems; sometimes those problems occurred, but often they did not. We were lucky, I know: we did most of our worrying ahead of time. Maybe the moral is that becoming a parent, like being one, is never worry-free.